|Malcolm Kelsey's fielders choice scored the game winner for St. John Fisher.
Photo by Steve Frommell, d3photography.com
By Austin Walthers
GRAND CHUTE, Wis. - St. John Fisher and UW-Whitewater each started the first two innings with three runs apiece and then settled in for six innings of shutout baseball until the Cardinals broke the tie to win the game in walk-off fashion with a 4-3 victory to avoid elimination.
First pitch of the game didn’t come until after 10 p.m. and the Warhawks leadoff man Daytona Bryden didn’t waste time and led off the game with a single and came around to score after being advanced to third on a base hit by Will Helbing and an RBI single from Steve Chamberlain.
“We actually went to Wal-Mart and had to rush back,” Bryden said. “We’re good at making the adjustments and dealing with the adversity and we got ourselves ready to go.”
The Warhawks continued the scoring with an RBI base hit from Matt Wary and a wild pitch that scored Chamberlain, but the Cardinals were able to get the second runner trying to score ending the inning with Whitewater up 3-0.
It didn’t take long for Fisher to put runners on when Jack Trotman reached on a fielding error by the Warhawk shortstop and Mike Roman singled with one out.
With two outs, Malcolm Kelsey then reached on an error by the third baseman to load the bases. The next batter Joe Simmons connected on a two out, two RBI single to put the Cardinals on the board putting the score 3-2 after one complete.
Summers wasn’t looking for anything specific, but just to make contact.
“Just take a deep breath, relax and if he throws a strike, hit it,” Simmons said.
After a three-run first, Marc Iseneker settled in and struck out the side in order in the second inning.
With Jack Vivinetto reaching on an error and advancing to third from a wild pitch, Trotman advanced him home with another Warhawk error for Fisher to even the score at three at the end of two.
“That’s what we needed to do,” St. John Fisher head coach Brandon Potter said. “We needed to settle it down a little bit and it was important to get runs across early.”
Iseneker put two runners on in the third, but got out of the inning for his fifth strike out through three.
Simmons cracked his second base hit of the game in the bottom half of the third, stole second and reached third on another fielding error, but was stranded after Bachar struck out two out of the last three hitters to get out of the inning.
Iseneker worked another 1-2-3 inning in the fourth to hold the tie at three.
Bachar responded in the bottom half of the fourth with a three up and three down after striking out the final two batters to preserve the tie.
Helbing reached on a two out walk and with a hit and run in place, Chamberlain flew out to center field to close out Whitewater’s fifth inning.
After striking out in his previous two at bats, Nate Roethel singled over second, but was thrown out at first from the catcher and Bachar got the next two Cardinals to fly and ground out.
Aldridge led off the sixth for the Warhawks with a walk. The next batter hit a shot back to Iseneker which caused him to go off balance as he threw the runner out at first. He was able to walk it off, got the next batter to ground out and the final hitter to strike out.
With two on and two out in the seventh inning, Bachar ended the scoring threat by striking out Kelsey and sent the tie at three into the eighth.
Ryan Felske relieved Iseneker after seven innings of work while not allowing a run since the first and Potter knew Iseneker had it in him to come back from three runs.
“We knew he would settle in and relax,” Potter said.
Felske then let up a two out double to Aldridge in the eighth, but erased any scoring threat when the next batter popped up.
The Warhawks started to bring guys off the bench when Trent Borgardt pinched hit for Aaron Markley in the ninth inning. Borgardt reached on a walk, advanced from a sacrifice and then was pulled for pinch runner Dylan Bersch who stole third to set up a first and third with one out after Dane Burman walked.
Loukas Brigham came in relief for the Cardinals midway through the inning to force a double play and send the game to the bottom of the ninth with the score tied at three.
Potter said they were completely confident in their pitching staff throughout the whole game.
“We kind of done similar things like that all year,” Potter said. “We were going to win or lose with those three guys so it worked out for us.”
Fisher leadoff man Cody Wiktorski opened up the bottom half of the ninth with a double off the wall which drove Bachar out of the game.
The left fielder Austin Jones came into the game and put the next two batters on with intentional walks to load the bases. Roethel came up and hit a liner off of Jones which was picked up by the first baseman to throw out the runner at home for the first out.
Kelsey then hit a chopper to short which was thrown home late and scored Ryan Prevost after he pinch hit Trotman to win the game for the Cardinals.
“I didn’t really attack the fast ball early in the count,” Kelsey said. “I tried to stay alive and put something in play.”
As for Whitewater, they were the first team to be eliminated in the tournament, but head coach John Vodenlich enjoyed the ride he had with his seniors.
“The more you get to know them, the tighter the bond and the deeper the love you have for one another,” Vodenlich said.
“It’s always hard to see them go, but at some point our children grow up and move on, it’s reality and part of life and I like to think we can keep them involved in our program.”